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Thread: Larson Brothers?

  1. #1

    Default Larson Brothers?

    Found this at an antique mall in Arkansas over the weekend. Thought it looked like some of the Larson Bros. flatbacks I've seen but I'm not sure. I appreciate any help!
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  3. #2
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    I believe that it is a Regal product.
    Don't fret. The better grade Regals are good sounding instruments.

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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    I had an unlabeled mandolin just like that other than it’s pickguard was plain. I sold a handful of instruments at a consignment place a few years back and I believe they listed it as a “possible Larson”.

    It had a simple crack on the back and after repairs they told me it sounded really great. I should have gone back and checked it out. I believe it sold for about $650.

    Jim

  5. #4

    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Yes, as mentioned, it is a Regal- and was sold by many third parties. I assume- and we cannot see the back or sides, this one is rosewood.

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    Moderator MikeEdgerton's Avatar
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    I think Carl and August might have ridden the streetcar past the Regal facility on the day that was built but I can't be totally sure.
    "It's comparable to playing a cheese slicer."
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    I propose a catch-all term for wannabee and near-miss Larson-looking instruments.....how about Larson Era? In the manner of Loar Era, along with Lawsuit Guitars, and the latest, Chibson.......

    All jokes aside, that's a nice looking mandolin, Harry! (but I noticed you had the price tag turned the other way!)
    Last edited by Jeff Mando; Jul-18-2022 at 1:39pm.

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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    I think Carl and August might have ridden the streetcar past the Regal facility on the day that was built but I can't be totally sure.
    I don't care who you are... that is funny.
    Charley

    A bunch of stuff with four strings

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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Based on the information in Bob Carlin’s Book on Regal Musical Instruments, This looks like model 2922, with the engraved tuner cover and it would have come with an engraved tailpiece cover as well. Regal model 110 is very similar, but without the engravings. Both models are rosewood and have the nice floral inlay on the pickguard.

    Bob’s book is pretty cool, but, as with most books on the subject of vintage instruments, one wishes for more info and more photos. Still, a nice addition to my library.

    You have a fun instrument. I have a similar model branded as S.S. Stewart. As mentioned above, Regal made some nice instruments.

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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Unfortunately many of us, myself included, have misidentified mandolins as possible Larson built instruments. Add the fact that some well known experts and authors have identified obvious Regal built instruments as instruments built by the Larson's and it's pretty much a mess. Part of the issue stemmed from the fact that many of us, myself included, had no idea as to how nice some of the instruments that came out of Regal over the years actually were. The Carlin book is highly recommended. My feeling is that Carl and August built fine instruments just not all of them people want to attribute to them. It's a shame that they didn't take a lesson from Joseph Bohmann as to how to label their instruments. If they had we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    Unfortunately many of us, myself included, have misidentified mandolins as possible Larson built instruments. Add the fact that some well known experts and authors have identified obvious Regal built instruments as instruments built by the Larson's and it's pretty much a mess. Part of the issue stemmed from the fact that many of us, myself included, had no idea as to how nice some of the instruments that came out of Regal over the years actually were. The Carlin book is highly recommended. My feeling is that Carl and August built fine instruments just not all of them people want to attribute to them. It's a shame that they didn't take a lesson from Joseph Bohmann as to how to label their instruments. If they had we wouldn't be having this conversation right now.

    Admittedly, as one of the crankier Larson Doubting Thomases I’m glad to see the LarBros hysteria settling down here a bit.

    One plus side, as Mike notes, is that folks might start to acknowledge that a Regal made flatback mandolin with a spruce top and rosewood back (for instance) might be a very nice instrument without the need to torturously try to ascribe a connection to the Larsons.

    I guess we reached the nadir when “You can’t prove to me it’s not a Larson!” became an acceptable position.

    I guess that’s one flip side to all the positives of information sharing on the web. An erroneous bit of information can get cited and then cited again and then it gets harder to unwind.

    Another edge to my cranky, comes from the fact that despite all the conversations of Larson ‘traits’ and stealth labels, etc. there have been precious few, if any discussion of Larson mandolin sound unlike there is4 about their guitars.

    Fair play to you, Harry. You’ve likely found a nice instrument.

    If you’ve got more photos, I (and I’m sure others) would enjoy seeing them.


    Thanks

    Mick
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Well, I've played a handful of "flatbacks" [they're not really flat] made by the Larson brothers, and will gladly offer this comment on their sound:

    They're good, strong mandolins that will make a Martin flatback run for the hills with its tail between its legs.

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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    Well, I've played a handful of "flatbacks" [they're not really flat] made by the Larson brothers, and will gladly offer this comment on their sound:

    They're good, strong mandolins that will make a Martin flatback run for the hills with its tail between its legs.
    Yeah, well there's a reason why Bill Monroe wasn't playing a Martin mandolin all those years. Martin cant top mandolins are sweet, aerie, almost bell like instruments. They have their place but they aren't loud. They are actually wonderful little instruments in the right mix. The plus side is that most if not all of them are easily identifiable because they were labeled.
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    ….They're good, strong mandolins that will make a Martin flatback run for the hills with its tail between its legs.
    There’s a start. Sort of…

    Mahogany backed Martins, or rosewood?

    Which hills?

    Which ‘Larson’s?

    I’ve got a handful of mandolins which folks tout as Larson (which I don’t buy) that are sharper of high end tone than a Martin A with deeper low and mid range, too, than my A.

    They all seem get along with one another. Dogal Calace strings have helped the Martin shake it’s tail feather a little bit, though.

    Mick
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by brunello97 View Post
    There’s a start. Sort of…

    1. Mahogany backed Martins, or rosewood?

    2. Which hills?

    3. Which ‘Larson’s?

    Mick
    It's been a while, and I don't own one, though I'd like to.

    1. Any one, from mahogany A's to rosewood E's.
    2. Them thar hills. Any hills, take your pick.
    3. Three I specifically remember, all with the typical long rounded-triangular bodies with no concave shoulders: a] A plain Maurer style 15 in brown stained maple. b] A slightly fancier intermediate model in rosewood. c] An upper level model in rosewood with pearl inlaid pickguard, similar to Maurer style 30. I don't remember whether b & c were branded as Maurer or Stahl.

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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    It's been a while, and I don't own one, though I'd like to.

    1. Any one, from mahogany A's to rosewood E's.
    2. Them thar hills. Any hills, take your pick.
    3. Three I specifically remember, all with the typical long rounded-triangular bodies with no concave shoulders: a] A plain Maurer style 15 in brown stained maple. b] A slightly fancier intermediate model in rosewood. c] An upper level model in rosewood with pearl inlaid pickguard, similar to Maurer style 30. I don't remember whether b & c were branded as Maurer or Stahl.
    Thanks. Now we're getting closer.

    Except maybe for #2.

    I live in the Texas "Hill Country". I guess they're hills. Until you go someplace else where there actually are hills.

    I've often sat with and A / B-ed my Martins with my so-called Larsons (which aren't, btw). I, too, prefer the "Larsons", though they're really Vegas but we'll leave that for another discussion.

    Why? Well the tonal differences I described above. The Martins aren't headed out to Fredicksburg or Kerrville or Blanco, though.

    The rosewood Martin sounds much more to pleasure: crisper tone, too, if the word "crisp" has any meaning.

    I can't lump together mahogany and rosewood back Martins and feel like I'm contributing to the conversation.

    That's why I'm bullish on these unfortunately overlooked Regals such as Harry's.


    Discussing mandolins attributed to the LarBros based on their sound and playfulness is a great step in keeping my crank down.

    A thorough look (not vague memories) of their mandolin bracing would be thoroughly welcome contribution, too.

    Would be great to see some pulled apart. If they were actual Larsons, that is.


    Mick
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    We in southeast Tennessee would call your hills "bumps."
    Folks who live in the Rockies would call my mountains "hills."
    Folks who live in Nepal would laugh at the Rockies.

    Doesn't matter. If they can't find a hill to run to, they'll run for the scrub, bumps or no bumps. Any port in a storm.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The OP's mandolin does not have the typical Larson body shape, nor does the back brace visible through the sound hole have the typical Larson triangular shape. If that brace is mostly flat on top, or U-shaped, it's not consistent with Larson workmanship.
    A friend of mine owns the maple Maurer 15. I'll try to remember to have him get it up here so I can look at the top bracing. IIRC, there wasn't anything that unusual about it. The sound is in the execution as much as it is in the design. They did like to put quite a bit of radius into their back plates, probably more than anyone else. In their own literature, they used the term "built under tension" to describe their significantly arched plates.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some very fine mandolins came out of the Regal and Vega factories.
    Last edited by rcc56; Jul-20-2022 at 8:17pm.

  22. #17

    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    We in southeast Tennessee would call your hills "bumps."
    Folks who live in the Rockies would call my mountains "hills."
    ...
    Haha, it's true! Having lived in Colorado Springs for a good span of time, I can confirm we're snobs about what gets labelled a mountain.

    Also, for whatever it's worth, I adore my Regal-made Washburn. I've never handled a Larson or maybe-it's-a-Larson, but I'll say despite my naivete: I think there's great value in discussing a given instrument's actual auditory merits rather than being blinded by the label, regardless whose name adorns it.

    I mostly jumped in to say that I've enjoyed the conversation that's unfolded here (and to brag about Colorado's impressive topography!). Thanks everyone!

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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by rcc56 View Post
    We in southeast Tennessee would call your hills "bumps."

    Right now we're calling them las colinas secas....


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The OP's mandolin does not have the typical Larson body shape, nor does the back brace visible through the sound hole have the typical Larson triangular shape. If that brace is mostly flat on top, or U-shaped, it's not consistent with Larson workmanship.


    I feel pretty confident that Harry, the OP's, mandolin isn't a Larson.


    A friend of mine owns the maple Maurer 15. I'll try to remember to have him get it up here so I can look at the top bracing. IIRC, there wasn't anything that unusual about it. The sound is in the execution as much as it is in the design. They did like to put quite a bit of radius into their back plates, probably more than anyone else. In their own literature, they used the term "built under tension" to describe their significantly arched plates.

    Would be great to see. The iconic Italian bowlbacks we love had considerable induced curvature to their tops, [/I] construito con tensione [I]which is something we don't see to much of degree -- or at all -- with many American bowls, Favilla and to some extent Vega providing some.

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Some very fine mandolins came out of the Regal and Vega factories.

    That's what I know.

    Mick
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeEdgerton View Post
    The plus side is that most if not all of them are easily identifiable because they were labeled.
    Speaking of Martin instruments, a few years ago I was able to purchase a Martin uke at an antique store for $10, evidently the seller didn't notice the tiny stamp on the back of the peghead. (or didn't care...) Anyway, I was able to recycle it on eBay at about 80X that amount, IIRC!

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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff Mando View Post
    Speaking of Martin instruments, a few years ago I was able to purchase a Martin uke at an antique store for $10, evidently the seller didn't notice the tiny stamp on the back of the peghead. (or didn't care...) Anyway, I was able to recycle it on eBay at about 80X that amount, IIRC!
    I have a Martin uke that my step father bought used in the 20's with violin style pegs that is made out of Koa. I need to figure out what to do with that one one of these days. It was the first instrument I learned to play.
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    Default Re: Larson Brothers?

    On the "Larson sound" question: my Stahl mandola, pretty clearly Larson-made, has a real bass emphasis. Hard to ID the body wood, due to the very dark finish, but I'm guessing "curly mahogany" for the back; definitely a lot of figure in the wood. Has the "pointed" back brace mentioned above.

    My Larson mando-bass (yeah, I have a photo of one of the Larsons holding it -- pretty reliable attribution!) sounds, well, like a mando-bass. And the bridge could have used some better compensation, to get accurate 3rd-string fretting. Love it anyway.
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